GOOD LIFE AND HUMAN ACTION
There are many different social and economic arrangements that could be compatible with 2-1.5 °C futures. What does a good life mean in this context and how might each country vision and chart its own path towards this? Because the notion of a good life is culturally and contextually dependent, each country’s process and visions will differ, although all of them will involve addressing what is meant by sustainable prosperity and skills, understanding their relation to climate policy and including synergies in different geographical contexts. Simultaneously, the project will help to address how character and regime formation can encourage capacity from local actors to engage and pursue desirable and feasible ways towards a good life in different spaces and stages in life. Initial questions to address these issues may include:
- What cultural, religious, or social ideas and values exist in each society that could help articulate what a good life compatible with 2-1.5 C futures could look like?
- Why does high-emission development often result in the lack of well-being for communities and workers? How can well-being be improved in a context of low emissions?
- What role can emission pricing financial strategies, fiscal policies and carbon offsetting play in a transition towards a net-zero, low-poverty outcome? How can adaptation and mitigation be combined to address climate resilience and vulnerability as climate impacts mount and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation advances?
- How can development pathways be shifted to take into account mutuality, reciprocity and solidarity, and become increasingly inclusive, equitable, climate-resilient and low emission? How can the political economy of the relevant sectors change? What does this mean for regional economic transition planning and its relation to central government, local communities and stakeholders?
- What role can the enhanced learning, capacity and skills contained in these visions and transitions play in a good life? How can they be further developed?
The project will consider how these questions can be addressed in the context of other creative elements explored throughout, including the synergies between mitigation/adaptation, designed multiple co-benefits and nature-based solutions; their relation to circular approaches and carbon emissions; and the concepts of sustainable recovery and climate proofing.
Why is there a need to focus on the good life in the context of visions, policies and projects?
Considering what a good life is, is often viewed with scepticism and perceived as something elusive and hard to pin down. However, in the absence of these questions, something else begins to drive whole process considerations. For example, team members did a series of net zero modelling and trajectories for a number of Latin American countries. When considering the replacement of coal fired power plants, it was easy to imagine a situation where capacity credits are paid to the displaced power plants that can no longer dispatch. Plant owners get out relatively unharmed in these transitions, but labour risks being decimated, or left with stranded skills. A second point is the need to focus not only on behaviour, which can be understood as a response to incentives, but also the outcomes of purposeful action in creating these societies, and on advancing the skills, values, and practices associated with them. The longer time frame of this project allows us to think outside the constraints of more immediate legislative and regulatory concerns. Crucially, this combination allows participants to consider what to take into account in the wider perspective of the vision generated, which would otherwise be obscured: It allows space to consider what it means to live a life well lived.